There have been lots of places this whole experience have taken me that I haven't particularly enjoyed. As a lifelong fan of area sports I am deeply saddened by the Mariners position. As they continue to show that their opposition has no boundaries I grow more and more disturbed by Howard Lincoln's ruthless belief in territorial entitlement.
It is difficult to summarize the relationships involved in the Mariners efforts to prevent the Sonics from returning and sharing the market.
Pete VonReichbauer was one of the few Seattle area leaders who personally knew Clay Bennett prior to the teams sale and vouched for his character to former Basketball Club of Seattle owners at the time they sold the team to OKC.
Pete VonReichbauer frequently bcc's Howard Lincoln on his arena related correspondence and spends a good deal of time at Lincolns personal residence. The two are close friends friends since the Safeco Field day's when a group of former Booth Gardner staffers rose to local prominence.
This group included Jim Kneeland of Pacific Public Affairs who was Gardners Press Secretary. Booth Gardner's stepmother was a member of the Blethen family who own and operate the Seattle Times.
Pacific Public Affairs went on to represent the Mariners for years as well as being the public affairs company of the Seattle Times.
PPA was referred to represent Clay Bennett when the sale to OKC occured. Everybody acknowledges that Frank Blethen of the Seattle Times also had a relationship with Bennett prior to the sale.
PPA and another agency, Cocker Fennessy have emerged as the leading opponents of the arena, leading the drive of PR against it. Rick Cocker is another former Mariners PR Spokesperson.
Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani was invited to join this entire group with Lincoln in the owners box at Mariners opening night. Lincoln has since hidden behind the ports public benefit arguments and using Yoshitani as a face for his own anti-arena efforts.
I could go on all day with this. There is much more.
Having seen the lengths that Lincoln will go. Having heard the stories of his aggressive efforts to work the wealthy backrooms. Knowing that he was willing to actively and aggressively lobby the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Seattle Association and Seattle Sports Commission to not support the returns of this franchise I have to question if there are any boundaries which he would not cross. He wants a bigger chunk of the market for himself and is willing to cross any lines to get there.
I would never have asked this question before but think that it deserves asking. If he was willing to do all this we have to consider :
Is there reason to believe that Howard Lincoln could have directly participated in efforts to block the Sonics previous arena efforts before the sale to the PBC?
With this questionable moral compass could he have directly conspired with the Clay Bennett to run a competitor out of town?
At this point I wouldn't put it past him. The thought of it is deeply disturbing.
Could we have blamed the wrong Howard?